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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Geragos Press Conference

Aired December 18, 2003 - 17:39   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to interrupt John Vause's report. Here is Mark Geragos speaking on the charges against his client, Michael Jackson.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: ...that was given announcing the charges against my client, Michael Jackson. I can tell you right now, categorically, that based upon this complaint that has been filed, that Michael Jackson is unequivocally and absolutely innocent of these charges.

I can also tell you that contrary to what was said during that press conference, that the defense does know what the prosecution thinks they have in this case.

I can also tell you that beyond any shadow of a doubt, I know that the investigators, or so-called investigators, do not know what we know. One of the reasons I can tell you that, because there is an old adage, it takes two people for the truth to be heard. It takes someone to hear it, and someone to tell it.

And in this case, we have people who do not want to hear the truth.

I was greatly disturbed by the strategy that has evolved in the last couple days coming out of Santa Barbara's D.A.'s office of getting very divisive. There was a remark today about very dismissive of the Los Angeles Children's Services unit.

I believe that all the good people of Santa Barbara understand something and understand it greatly, that there is no way you're going to be able to divide people into an us and them, there's no way you're going to be able to be dismissive of what trained investigators have already spent an inordinate amount of time investigating unless -- unless -- have you what we have here.

And what we have here is an intersection between a shakedown -- somebody who's looking for money -- with somebody, an investigation, that's got an axe to grind. Because otherwise, there would be no way -- no way -- that any self-respecting prosecutor would be going forward on the basis of this patent and unbelievably -- shakedown is the only word that I can use.

I've been on this case and I have been involved in the investigation of this case since the inception. I can tell you right now that unequivocally there is no truth to any of this.

Interestingly enough, this morning we were in court on the matter versus extrajet (ph) which the last time many of you were here we also talked about. Interestingly enough a judge in a courtroom, when evidence was presented, once again ruled for Michael Jackson.

Once again, in a courtroom, where you just can't get out there and do some kind of a bad stand-up routine when you have to put up or shut up, a judge ruled -- and a judge ruled appropriately -- that you could not abuse, that you could not slam Michael Jackson.

I'm here to tell you right now Michael Jackson is going to fight these charges with every fiber of his soul. I'm here to tell you right now that we will take no quarter in terms of this defense. I'm telling you right now that there is absolutely no way that we will stand for this besmirching of this man with these horrible, horrible allegations. And, I will tell you right now that there is no way that the prosecution will prevail in this case.

I will tell you one other thing. There was some talk about the passport and the passport being given back. And there were questions that were talked about, will he flee?

Michael Jackson not only will not flee, Michael Jackson is here ensconced ready to fight. He is strong, he is defiant, as well is should be, because he knows and I know that these charges are completely and wholly unfounded.

He's not running. He's not hiding. He came back immediately when informed about these charges. And he is as irate as I am and anybody else who knows anything about the history of these accusers, anybody who knows anything about the history of the investigators and the axes they have to grind knows that these charges not only are categorically untrue, but they're driven -- driven -- by two things -- money and revenge. We will prove that.

Thank you very much.

BLITZER: There he is, Mark Geragos, making very, very powerful accusations against the family of the accuser in the Michael Jackson case, as well as the prosecution, saying this is nothing more than a shakedown, a combination of two sides, someone looking for money -- presumably that would be the family of this young boy -- as well as someone with an axe to grind. That's a direct accusation against Tom Sneddon, the district attorney in Santa Barbara county. Presumably because of failure to press charges about ten years ago when similar accusations surfaced.

Let's bring in Chris Darden. I've seen defense attorneys get angry, and you have as well, Chris Darden. I've rarely seen someone get as angry as Mark Geragos and make those kinds of direct accusations against both sides in this case, the family as well as the prosecution.

CHRISTOPHER DARDEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You're absolutely correct. Nor have I, Wolf. Not only does he make these allegations against officials Santa Barbara County, but he's also stated that Michael Jackson is absolutely and unequivocally innocent of these allegations and that he intends to take no prisoners and that he will fight this case with every fiber of his being.

And one of the things that jumped out to me in Geragos' statement was the fact that he said that he had been involved ever since the investigation began, which must have been back in February, which would suggest then that police seized very little, if anything, from Michael Jackson's home when they served the search warrant recently.

If this is the case that is going to depend finally on the word of these victims, victims who have already given inconsistent statements and denials that abuse ever occurred this is going to and very, very, very tough case for the prosecution.

BLITZER: Presumably the prosecution is going to have to come up -- excuse me -- the defense, Mark Geragos in this particular case, come up with some evidence to back up the accusation that this is a shakedown, the family is simply, in his words, "looking for money," and that the defense -- that the prosecution, the district attorney, has an axe to grind and that's why he's going forward with this case.

Under the bar of the ethics, the legal standards in California, can a defense attorney make those kinds of accusations without some sort of hard evidence to back it up?

DARDEN: Well, you know, no one should make accusations like those unless they have some evidence or information to back it up. It certainly isn't an ethical violation on his part. He believes in his client's innocence and he wants all of us to know that in his view, his client is factually innocent.

You know, when I reflect on Geragos' comments and Tom Sneddon's press release, one of the things Sneddon said was that it was not uncommon for him to try cases up in Santa Maria. I looked at the complaint. The complaint is signed by Tom Sneddon and not by one of the senior prosecutors in the office. And it makes me wonder whether or not Tom Sneddon is planning to try this case.

And if that's true, well, he may very well support Mark Geragos' theory that this is nothing but a revenge case.

BLITZER: Strong words on a remarkable day. Chris Darden, our legal analyst. You'll be a busy guy over the next several weeks and months. Maybe years in fact as these proceedings continue. Chris Darden, our CNN legal analyst, thanks very much.

Mark Geragos saying categorically his client, Michael Jackson, is innocent beyond a shadow of a doubt. Michael Jackson, he says, is going to fight these charges with every fiber of his being. Much more coverage coming up here on CNN on that.

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